The Death of Esmin Green , and the silence

Posted by Bushel Basket

Friends, please take a few minutes out of your day to read both this blog post and the other links attached in the post. I think this issue is important enough to spend more than a few minutes on.

Esmin Green died June 19, after waiting in an emergency room in New York City for 24 hours, and after lying on the floor in visible pain for over an hour. She was observed by multiple hospital staff, security guards, and by other patients in the waiting area, yet no one did anything. Read the Chicago Tribune article here.

Esmin Green was poor, black, female, and mentally ill. In this country, the deck doesn't get much more stacked against you than that. Regardless of what you may believe about the racial, economic, gender, or mental health issues in this country, this was an unforgivable act. It is a sin of omission, to use theological language. By not doing anything, most likely because of how this woman appeared, she was allowed to die in pain, uncared for. A grave sin was committed. And don't believe for one second this sin is an isolated case.

This atrocious act doesn't just lie with the few individuals who did nothing. This is not just a sin of omission, but a corporate sin; a sin that doesn't exist just on the individual level, but as a collective whole. It would be easy for us to level our judging eyes on those people that saw her in pain and did nothing. They have their own sin to bear in this, but it goes much farther than that. The sin extends through the hospital and the healthcare system that wore down the staff and dehumanized the patients until our souls became transmuted into numbers and dollar signs. And yes, it rests with us, in our own complicity because this system still goes on, and the most we do is think, "oh, that's so sad," but would never stomach this kind of treatment for someone we know and care about.

I do not separate myself from this sin; writing a damn blog post doesn't make up for what sin I've accumulated. Yet, my silence would only damn me more. For those of you who have a pulpit, or a place to speak, be it on the internet or in public, do not be silent on this issue. By the standards of most economic models, Esmin Green was not a person that would ever be a valuable or productive member of society. Financially, there is no motivation to take care of someone like Ms. Green. It is only in the value that we as humans place on the care of other humans. Remember this the next time some tries to deflect issues of health care by bringing up the cost. Also, remember this the next time you see someone in need on the street.

Again, here's the story from the Chicago Tribune.

My deepest thanks to Ann Marie for her blog post which helped shake me out of myself to finish the blog post I'd done on this and abandoned. Please read her reflections as well.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 3, 2008 at Thursday, July 03, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



Thank you for posting this.

July 4, 2008 at 12:10 PM

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